Northern Sea Oats, Chasmanthium latifolium

Northern Sea Oats

Chasmanthium latifolium

Sun Shade:
Bloom Time: Late Summer/Early Fall
Zones: 3, 4, 5
Soil Conditions: Loam
Soil Moisture: Medium, Moist, Wet
Color: Green
Fragrance: No
Height: 2-5 feet
Spacing: 1-2.5 feet


Northern Sea Oats, Chasmanthium latifolium, a clump-forming, upright, ornamental grass which typically grows 2-5 feet tall and most often occurs in rich woods or rocky slopes along streams and on moist bluffs. This grass is perhaps most distinguished by the flat, drooping seed heads which hang in terminal clusters on thread-like pedicils from slightly arching stems. Seed heads will flutter when caressed by even the softest of breezes. Seed heads emerge green but turn purplish bronze by late summer. Bright green leaves turn a coppery color after frost and eventually brown by winter. Root system is fibrous and rhizomatous. Clonal colonies of plants often develop from the rhizomes.

Habitats include moist alluvial meadows, rocky slopes along streams, limestone glades, thinly wooded areas in river floodplains, moist woodlands, and woodland borders. Some local populations may derive from plants that have escaped cultivation.

Easily grown in average, medium to wet, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Tolerant of poor soils, but prefers moist, fertile soils. One of the more shade tolerant of the ornamental grasses. Self-seeds and may spread aggressively. Leaving foliage in place over winter adds interest to the landscape and helps protect crowns from the cold.

Plant Notes and Herbal Uses
  May need staking or other support.
  Excellent for dried flower arrangements.
  Cut back to the ground in early spring.
Further Information

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